1 st & 2 nd Industrial Revolution


The Second Industrial


Article written by

Ray Kurzweil



Industrial Revolution

• Started with John Kay’s invention of flying shuttle, 1733

• James Watt’s steam engine (1769) should be mentioned

• Characteristics: Mechanization.

• Impact on industry: shifted from cottage industry with craft to mass production with machine tools.

‘Products’ of 1 st Industrial


• Steam engine;

• Internal combustion engine;

• Electricity, and its use: -

• Train, automobile, airplane, ocean vessel;

• Bulldozer, excavator;

• Refrigerator, air-conditioner;

• Skyscraper;

• Weapon; -

1 st Industrial Revolution: a two-edge sword?

• So many benefits and advantages it has brought to us.

• Any negativity?

Luddite Movement

• Founded in 1811.

• Central issue: Workers’ job security threatened by mechanization and automation.

• Automation vs. job has been a ‘pain’ issue in the process of industrial revolution, even up to now.

Automation vs. Jobs

• Technological progress eliminates some current jobs.

• Does new tech create more new jobs than those displaced?

• Do the new jobs pay more of less than the older ones?

• What about the workers who are displaced?

New Jobs Created with 1


Industrial Revolution

• In 1870, 31% of Americans, or 12 millions, had jobs

• In 1985, 48% of Americans, or 116 millions, had jobs.

Productivity Growth

• GNP per capita was $530 in 1870, and

$3,500 in 1970 (in 1958 dollars), which increase 6 times.

• Percent of American workforce that involved in food production:

In 1900, 34%;

In 1990, only 3%.



Industrial Revolution

• It is now in progress.

• It is led and inspired by computers.

• It extends and multiplies our mental abilities, comparing to the 1 st industrial revolution that extends and multiplies our physical capabilities.

‘Products’ of 2 nd Industrial


• Computers (PCs, …)

• Internet

• Cell phones

• CD, DVD, MP3, digital camera, …


• Gene engineering

• Embedded in most modern machines

Potential Dangers

• Humans are increasingly relying on machines whose intelligence may be as flawed as our own.

• Technology can be, and is already, a powerful ally of the totalitarians and terrorists. – This danger is real, not


Product Values Less Visible

• Computers use almost no natural resources.

• Value of a ‘high tech’ product lies primarily in the ‘knowledge’ (rather than materials) it contains.

Value of Knowledge and


• The value of knowledge and technology reflects the cost of research and development (R&D) of the product’s hardware and software, as well as the cost to maintain the ability of continuing to advance and further the R&D.

Computing Speed Doubled

Every 2 Years

• The power of computer technology (the ratio of speed over cost) has doubled every 18 to 24 months.

• This is called the Moore’s Law.

A Unprecedented Challenge to

Our Superiority of Intelligence

• The 1 st industrial revolution has helped human become superior in physical capability.

• The 2 nd industrial revolution is helping machines achieve intelligence, which may become superior in mental capability on top of us.

• Is our intelligence unique and insuperable?

Copernicus’ Sun-Centered


• It is the earth that circles the sun, rather than the sun circles our earth.

• Nicolaus Copernicus, Polish, 1473 – 1543, published his theory in book <On the

Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres> in


An Inexorable Advent

• Machines that are getting smarter are a sword of two edges. It is looming large no matter whether we like it or not.

• It cannot be stopped.

• We need to comprehend it, live with it, harness it constructively, and turn threats into challenges.

How Far Can 2 nd Revolution Go?

• The machines of 1 st revolution have over performed our muscles.

• Do you think the machines of 2 nd revolution will over perform our brains?

A Sustained and Divergent


• Comparing to the 1 st one, the 2 nd industrial revolution is a continued process which will last long and whose impacts on human beings are divergent, boundless, and beyond estimation.

What do you think?

• “

While the first industrial revolution increased the demand for and the value of natural resources, the second industrial revolution is doing the opposite


(Bottom of page 8, paragraph 18)

• Do you agree? Why or why not?